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Sinners say your prayers tonight - 94%

extremesymphony, April 5th, 2011

For their 13th album Black Sabbath (Tony Iommy) recruit ex- Alliance vocalist Tony Martin, whose sound is more in common with Ronnie James Dio more than anyone else. So in this release we see Sabbath heading more for a power metal direction in the vein of Heaven & Hell, except that this is even more epic with good focus on atmosphere. The songs are short and to the point and the song writing is terrific.

As usual Iommy is the main star of the album. His some of the heaviest riff work in years is displayed here. His leads are also superb and melodic at the same time. Tony Martin is a great vocalist and his vocals are great in the album. He has a great range and has a perfect voice for power metal. He also displays great mid range in many songs especially the title track. His ability to bring emotion into every song is just awesome.Keys which play a small role in the album of adding the epic atmosphere, are played by Geoff Nicholls. The drum work is OK not that great. The production is nice heavy and superb and gives every instrument it's proper, required balance.

The songs themselves are short and catchy. The riff work is great. Highlights include the opener ‘The Shining’ which has a catchy and epic chorus and a tremendous vocal performance by Martin. The next song ‘Ancient Warrior’ is slower, but has even more epic chorus than the opener. The atmosphere in both of these songs is just excellent. They carry a strange aura about them beaten only by Awaken the Guardian. ‘Glory Ride’ is another good song, not as good as the first 2 songs though. Somewhere around 2nd minute, it breaks into an excellent epic acoustic part, which sounds cool. ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ is an acoustic instrumental. Once again great use of the ‘Children of the Sea’ like atmosphere. ‘Lost Forever’ is total speed metal, another essential highlight.The title track is totally amazing and is the best song in the album. It is slow, crushing doom metal, a stark contrast to the light, epic nature of the rest of the album. It destroys everything dark and wicked put out so far, by Sabbath. Martin makes use of his mid range here and man does it send a chill down your spine? Yes it does!The whole song does just that. The riff work by Iommy is nice, heavy and crushing. The ending is just apocalypse crushing, down everything in its path.

Among the weaker songs, ‘Hard Life to Love’ and ‘Born to Lose’ feature more life on the fast lane lyrics, which are at odds with the remaining epic tracks. Yet, they are catchy and enjoyable, having good pace, excellent riffs and again good vocal performance. ‘Nightmare’ is the worst song off the album. The riffs are, a bit less inspired compared to the others. Also it doesn't have a good pace nor good atmosphere, but still is quite a passable track, which just pales compared to the other tracks.

Contrary to popular belief, this actually is one of the better albums put out by Sabbath. They would go on to achieve much better results with the indisputable Tyr with such style. But the songwriting and the ability to create an epic atmosphere is very high and it is that which makes this album so enjoyable. So concluding, this is a fine album and is recommended to all without any hesitation.